Love-In - Earl Thomas
He is just one of the most entertaining people youll ever meet. Ill tell you something I really believe: I think that this guy is going to make it, not even if hes given half a chance; hell make it if he only gets a bitty spot of a chance and that aint no bullshit.
- from Ike Turner’s liner notes to Intersection
His songs have been recorded by Etta James, Solomon Burke, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green. His dynamic stage show described as one part Sam Cooke, one part Otis Redding, one part Al Green, and ten parts Earl Thomas has been impressing audiences around the world for over a decade. His direct approach and engaging personality has seen him opening shows for Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Etta James, B. B. King, India.Arie and Ike Turner. He’s performed at top music festivals including the renowned Montreux Jazz Festival, has released eleven critically acclaimed cds, and has songs currently in two feature films. He is a singer, songwriter, producer, and world class entertainer. He is EARL THOMAS.
The die was cast long ago for Earl Thomas who, born into a musical family in east Tennessee grew up surrounded by music. “Ours was your typical musical family,” he says. “All of us either sang or played an instrument.” His mother, was a gospel singer and his father, a blues guitarist. He was raised with a wealth of blues, rock & roll, and gospel music, from Muddy Waters to Otis Redding and Clara Ward, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha, Tina, Gladys, and all the Stax Records; the artists and repertoire that he refers to as “the language of our people". He was also turned on to rock & roll. Artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, and led Zeppelin also helped shape his musical personality. “I actually started out wanting to be a rock singer like Mick Jagger,” says the artist known around the world as The Blues Ambassador, “and I think that this is what makes my sound so unique.”
Earl Thomas recorded his first album Blue ... Not Blues for Bizarre Records in 1991 which included an original song, “I Sing the Blues”. The tune, described by Earl as “my autobiography” I caught the attention of Montreux Jazz Festival impresario and founder Claude Nabs who passed it on to Jerry Wexler who proceeded to cut it with Etta James who kicked off her 1994 Elektra Records release, The Right Time with the track.
It didn’t dawn on Earl just how monumental this was until sometime later when he saw Etta perform the song on a CNN profile. He was in a hotel room in Norway when he exclaimed out loud “Oh my God, Etta James is singing my song on CNN!” Later the song was used in an episode of the hit TV series E.R. This was confirmation for him that he, Earl Thomas was a bonafide songwriter. “When someone like Etta James does your song, it legitimizes you as an artist.” He got even more legit as Solomon Burke sang three Earl Thomas songs on his Homeland cd. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins recorded Earl’s “I Am The Cool” and Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green and Shamekia Copeland have also covered “I Sing The Blues.”
Song writing represents validation for Earl but performing and singing is at the core of his being. He really has no choice in this, explaining, “The writer has to write, the painter has to paint and the singer has to sing. It’s proven to me time and time again that this is what God wants me to do,” adding, “musicians and artists are like mediums, we connect people with the Divine.” With his tight band, Earl Thomas creates an atmosphere of fun and playfulness on stage. “I am singing the blues as a celebration, as a healing. To me that is what the blues is about and that is why everyone can relate to it. After all is said and done life is a party.”
Earl Thomas has most recently been opening shows for Etta James. With only an acoustic guitarist and himself, he sets the tone for the evening and showcases a magnificent voice in a set called “La Casa Di Caffe Calabria” (The Coffeehouse Show) which encompasses his dynamic style and talent. He brings down the house when he injects the Rolling Stone’s classic “Brown Sugar” with his own brand of energy and delta blues style, bridging the divide between rock ’n’ roll and the blues. “I always felt like blues, rock, soul, funk were somehow interconnected and I want to try and find the connection,” says the Tennessee born, Northern California based singer. On this latest cd for Memphis International Records, Intersection, he did just that.